For those not in the know, Rasto and Alphayo, with all their apparent failings, are the founders of this school.
You can claim that they merely watched as other people donated land, iron sheets and other building materials, but you can’t dispute that they are part of the few people who were there when the idea of Mwisho wa Lami Primary School was mooted and implemented. And that makes them founders.
That was in the early 1980s, and although I was born already, I was still trying to know my name.
“The land this school sits on was our family land,” said Rasto, who together with Alphayo, have always sat in the Parents Teachers Association of the school and have also been sitting on the Board of Management (BOM).
He told me this a few months ago at Hitler’s. “It was donated by my brother Ezekia. Ezekia also bought the iron sheets for the first three classes. We are the people who laboured in the construction of this school to save our children form crossing River Lukose to go to a school far away.”
He added: “Whenever River Lukose flooded, our children would be absent from school, and that is how Ezekia said that we must do something.”
I was told this in the first term, when Catherina had come in as acting head teacher and removed them from the BOM, arguing they did not have Form Four certificates.
“Why didn’t anyone ask for our certificates when we were busy constructing this school?” wondered Nyayo. “I remember carrying poles that my father had donated.” They say they were not paid for the work, although Hitler, who has a better history of the school and things in Mwisho wa Lami, will tell you that they were paid.
“We are founders of this school,” Rasto reminded me last week. “And we must have a say on how the school is run.” This was after Bensouda had replaced Rasto with Kizito. On the day the two confronted Kizito and Bensouda, Kuya had saved Kizito from a beating while Bensouda took off.
She returned a week later, and during that week, neither Rasto nor Alphayo were seen at school, and Bensouda carried on with her headmistress duties with no interruptions.
I met Rasto and Alphayo at Hitler’s that week, and they were categorical that they must sit on the BOM. I laughed, telling them there was nothing they could do.
“Just because we are quiet doesn’t mean that we will let Bensouda do what she wants,” Alphayo told me.
That week was the lull before the storm. They returned last week bolder, louder and more organised. It started last Monday when we were having our staff meeting, chaired by Bensouda, who of late comes to school regularly – averagely twice a week!
We were still reviewing the previous week’s activities when we heard noises from outside. It was Rasto, Alphayo, Nyayo, other villagers and children carrying twigs and placards, blowing whistles and singing. As they approached the staffroom, it was clear what they were asking for.
“Kizito must Go! Skastina Must Go!” They sang, among other chants. Skastina is Bensouda’s real name. They also were carrying placards.
“No Rasto No Education,” read a placard carried by a young Class Four pupil – Rasto’s grandson. The brother was also carrying another Placard: “Nyayo must come!”
“Go lock yourself in the Office,” Kuya, the strongest of us, told Bensouda. She went in, followed by Sella and Nzomo, who were trembling. Kuya then stood outside the staffroom door.
I followed him and stood, very near him but I was not a fool. I had already identified an exit in case of trouble.
With the strongly built Kuya at the door, they could not move at all, but kept singing and shouting that “Skastina Must Go, Rasto must Come!” This went on for some time.
This had brought the school to a standstill. Three pupils, Nyayo’s son and Alphayo’s two grand-children, also joined the protestors.
A few minutes later, we heard the sound of a car approaching. It was the police. On seeing the police, most of the demonstrators disappeared, with the pupils running to class — as if they were not part of the demos. Rasto, Alphayo and Nyayo remained unmoved. One of the policemen went to talk to the three.
“Do you have permission to demonstrate?” the policeman was asking them.
“This is our school, we do not need any license to come here,” said Nyayo.
As they were still talking, one of the officers walked to the staffroom and walked away with Bensouda, Sella and Nzomo to the car.
“Usirudi hapa tena!” shouted Nyayo as the car sped off.
With Bensouda and the ladies out, Kuya left the door allowing the policemen; together with Rasto and team to enter the staffroom. The area assistant chief joined them a few minutes later.
“You must get a licence if you want to demonstrate,” he said.
After some time the meeting came to an end, and everyone left, except the teachers and pupils. That afternoon the school continued as if nothing had happened. The next day was quiet. Bensouda did not come to school, but kept calling me asking if all was well.
She came two days later and went straight to her office; and called me.
“Will these people still come?” she asked. I told her I didn’t know
A few minutes after I had left office, I received an SMS from Nyayo asking me if Bensouda was in school. I didn’t respond. After tea break, the demonstrators came again. They were, however, dispersed by the assistant chief who arrived in time.
As soon as they left, Bensouda called Saphire, Kuya and I to her office and asked us if we could organise counter-demonstrations. “These people must know we can also fight back,” she said. We all said we were not cowards but were against counter-demos.
“I will get you some money to organise for the demos,” she said.
“Then we will do it,” said Saphire when he heard there was money. Saphire agreed to let her know how much was required that evening. Bensouda did not come to school on Friday, but later that evening at Hitler’s, Saphire told me: “Bensouda should just remove Kizito from the BOM. Or she will also go.” I asked him why.
“If Rasto says you must go, then you need to start packing!”
“So Bensouda will go?” I asked, disappointed.
“She must send away Kizito and replace him with Rasto if she wants to stay.”
I asked him why he had accepted money to organise counter-demos. He answered rhetorically: “Who doesn’t want money?”